The $5 School Cake…

The $5 School Cake…

Chocolate

“Chocolate”
© Les Becker, 2010
Taken November 21, 2010 with Nokia N97 Smartphone

When Ruby was a young girl, her school in Northland had a fair once a year, in the spring. It offered the usual school fair “stuff” of the era; games of chance, 4H projects, etc., and students could show off (and sell) their needlework and baked goods.

One year, Ruby won a needlepoint contest – got a trophy and everything. Another year, she and her sister Joycie entered a singing contest. They won 10 cents each for climbing up on the back of a hay wagon and singing “The Little Shirt My Mother Made for Me.”

The real killer year for Ruby, though, was The Year of the $5 School Cake.

She and her sisters each baked up something to sell at the school bake table every year. This year, Ruby had baked a chocolate layer cake. It was a beautiful cake and she was really proud of it.

On the walk to the fair, Ruby fell behind a little, walking veeeerrrryyy carefully to make sure her cake survived the journey intact. She was just coming to the edge of the fairground, far behind her sisters, when a stumbling drunk guy comes reeling towards her, and stops her.

“Hey,” says the drunk. “Whad’ya got there?”

Ruby tells him she’s got a chocolate cake to put on the school bake table.

The drunk says, “Yeah? I’ll give you $5 for it.”

Ruby, not being stupid, promptly handed him the cake. $5 richer, she went wandering around the fair grounds until she found her father at the ice cream stand.

Her father loved ice cream. He looked forward to the school fair every year, just so he could get an ice cream cone. He also loved children, and every year, he bought every kid that came along an ice cream cone too.

When Ruby found him, he asked, “Did you sell your cake?

Ruby said, “Yup,” and told him about the drunk, and showed him the $5.

Now, Ruby’s dad had probably just blown (at 5 cents a cone over 20 or 30 kids) around a buck and a quarter. Ruby, on the other hand, had just gained $5 by scalping her own school cake. All her father could think of to do was laugh.

Ruby has no memory of what she might have spent that $5 on, and it drives her crazy that she can’t remember.

“That was an awful lot of money back then,” she says.

All I can picture when she tells this story, is the drunk – stumbling through the woods and across fields carrying a chocolate layer cake…

Not-So-Random Song-for-the-Day: “The Little Shirt My Mother Made for Me” – Marty Robbins

The Bear Hunter

The Bear Hunter

Bear Claw

Bear Claw
Taken March 1, 2008 with Canon PowerShot A550

I found this bear claw in a box full of little trinkets and treasures in my father’s closet nearly a year ago. It was in the same box with his pocket watch, along with some other neat stuff.

This was during my Walk-About days, when I would hoof it all the way across town once a week, to see my parents at The Old-Age Home, have a visit, a meal and a story, and then hoof it all the way back. I had a tight ass, then, dammit. Not even a year ago. Man, things change fast.
(more…)

Sometimes, Wishing is Enough…

“What Lies Behind…”

“What Lies Behind…”

Taken October 9, 2007 with Canon PowerShot A550

My boss called me today.

Asked me to come in to work to “have a little talk.”

Scared the shit out of me.

I LOVE my job. I want to keep my job. The only thing I don’t like about my job is my seeming inability to negotiate gracefully between day shifts and night shifts, which I’m beginning to despair of ever getting a handle on.

All I can manage to do is sleep. House is a wreck. The Idiot Child must feed herself or go hungry – not to mention, wash her own laundry (as well as mine), and Sheikh the Cat has begun spending his awake hours sitting next to my head, intermittently placing a paw on my face and sliming kissing me, wondering why my eyes are always closed.

This despair of accommodating the fluctuating schedule got me wishing for a work routine that I’ve only experienced once, Way Back When, remember that? I wasn’t particularly fond of the “job” part of that job, but the schedule was perfect: it was the same. damned. schedule. every. day. With weekends off, to boot.

My house was clean. The cats were happy. The Idiot Child was still a teenager, but I think she preferred the sameness, as well.

I have been wishing I could approach my boss and appeal for a Same-Damned-Shift. Even if it was the night shift. I dreamed of the conversation being short, sweet and successful.

Me: “Hey, how ’bout I work nights? All the time. Just nights. Cuz nobody else seems to like nights.”

Him: “Yeah, great idea! Thanks! I’ll just go ahead and change the schedule right now! How ’bout I give you more shifts with that? You want more shifts? There’s more money in more shifts. How ’bout I give you more shifts, too?”

There are a bzillion reasons why I couldn’t do that. I mean, I could do that, but he would either laugh, thinking I was joking, or take me seriously and still say no. Several reasons for the “no”:

1) I’m still The New Kid on the Dance Floor. Yes, others have come behind me, but I’m still new enough that I can get away with “I’m New Here” to cover a mistake I’ve made. Much longer, I’d have to use “I’m Old” for an excuse. That’s probably more apt. 😉

2) Nobody has a Same-Damned-Shift schedule. Nobody. Why should *I* get that lucky?

3) It’s obvious to all and sundry that I’m having trouble adapting to the shift changes and if they coddled me (cuz I’m old, maybe?), it could possibly cause a revolt.

So, I’ve been schlepping along, loving the job part of the job and hating the schedule part of the job, wishing for the impossible, and for shit’s sake, my boss calls me today for “a little talk”.

I knew I was fired. I wanted to ask if I was fired, but Boss is not the kind of guy that does that over the phone, I’m pretty sure. I settled for asking, oh so casually (yeah, right) “Sure, what’s up? Something wrong?” the whole while repeating the mantra, “don’t-let-it-be-bad…don’t-let-it-be-bad…don’t-let-it-be-bad…don’t-let-it-be-bad”, which, for the record, has never once worked before. In my experience, if it feels like it might be “bad”, it’s generally much, much worse than “bad”.

So, yeah. I knew I was fired, even when he said, “Oh, no. Nothing to worry about. Just wanna go over something with you.”

Uh oh. What horrible thing have I done? Shit, he read about me finding cocaine on the dance floor! No, wait, I told him that story myself and he laughed really hard. Can’t be that.

Or maybe, I didn’t do something that I should have done? It’s not like I forgot to lock up, or anything (once did that while working for Louie, and nobody even noticed, can you believe that?) – I mean, we’re open 24/7. I’m not even sure there is a set of keys for the place.

Not that it would matter what the “little talk” was about, I still had to have it. So, I pulled on my boots and crossed the street.

And my boss said to me – no word of a lie, here, either, I swear – I’m not even exaggerating in the slightest little bit:

“I’m hoping I can change your schedule. Would you be willing to work straight nights, with weekends off? You’d be guaranteed five shifts that way, (employees who have been there longer, of course normally get more hours, unless they book a shift and hand it to me) and if I need you on the weekends, I’ll call – you’ve never turned down a shift, so you’re the first one I call. Would that work for you?

Well, gee, lemme think on that….

I’m dumbfounded. I agreed immediately, though, and he was all thanking me as if I were doing him a favour. Maybe I am and just don’t realize it, but it’s like he read my mind.

Or my blog….

Hmmmmmm…..

So, he hands me my newly-minted hours, starting Sunday end, or S/M if you read the little date box on the schedule, and I trotted back home to write this post, and marvel over never having to wonder when I’m working “next week”… and there followed shortly a call requesting me to work an extra shift tomorrow. Already, I’m booked for overtime. I love my job.

Now, I have to clean a cat-box. Maybe then, Sheikh will quit sliming kissing me in the middle of my version of night.

~ Just about to hit the publish button when I get another call from work – this time from the assistant manager: apparently some deer-hunter I was joking around with a week or so ago (told him he should bring me some deer parts, since my dad was gone, and nobody ever brings me deer meat anymore), just dropped off a venison roast for me. Can I please come pick it up, as it’s grossing her out? ~

Well, gee, lemme think on that….

Excuse me while I go pick up Free Dead Wild Animal.

(Did I tell you how much I love my job…?)

Random Song-for-the-Day: “Surf Wax America” – Weezer

Where’s the “Beech”?!

Where’s the “Beech”?!

Ruby - Bathing Suit - 1956
Parade Girl – 1956

It didn’t show up in the photo, so Ruby’s sister, who took the original picture back in 1956, wrote what the sign said with a ball-point pen, on the copy she made for Ruby. Yes, that’s Ruby with the mask, goggle eyes and bathing suit. Ummm. Yeah. That’s a bathing suit.

Ruby had no qualms whatsoever about handing it over for bloggery mischief – in fact, she hunted it out on purpose for me in March of this year.

Sorry, folks. This post is a few months late.

* * *

Did I ever tell you about the time I marched in the Community Day Parade on the Island?

Me: No! When was this?!

(laughs and claps her hands together) Wait’ll you see this!

She disappears into her spare room and comes out with the above photo, at which I, of course, laugh.

Me: ‘Splain to me this, Ruby.

Ruby (eyes just a twinkling): Do you think that Mushy-fella will like this?

Me: I think he’d rather no mask.

Ah, well. He’ll have to suffer the mask, then.

Me: So, what’s with the sign? Were you protesting?

Kind of. But we were more making fun, I guess.

Me: Who were you making fun of?

The Town Council, that’s who! A couple years before this, somebody on the council got the bright idea, that if they made a sand beach along the waterfront on one side of the Island, that the tourists would come in droves. There was fighting and voting and more fighting and more voting than you ever would believe over that beach mess, let me tell you!

Me: Looks as if the town wanted it, by the sign…

Nope. Just the opposite. Most people in town didn’t think it would work at all. They figured Lake Huron would just wash the beach away in a couple of years, and wouldn’t that be just a waste of sand and money?

Me: I guess it would.

Your darn right it would! But Council won out, and they must have spent thousands trucking in sand in big trucks and dumping it. They made a right nice beach, too.

Me: And….?

And the very next Spring, Lake Huron melted and hauled the whole works away to God Knows Where! (laughs for a long time) Town Council was pretty red-faced about that, lemme tell you!

Me: And so you marched yourself down Main Street in the Community Day Parade with that get-up and a sign, just to make fun of the Council? I wouldn’t have thought you to be so mean, Ruby!

(I said this ADMIRINGLY, though, you must understand….)

Ruby claps her hands together in laughter again….

Yup! And….

I won First Prize!!

Random Song for the Day: “Nobody Told Me” – Puddle of Mudd

You Want Fries with that Burger…?

You Want Fries with that Burger…?

Les and Goldie, 1971
Ain’t I Angelic… “looking”?

Ah, yes, appearances can be deceiving, though, can’t they? The dog knows differently, you can tell by the look on her face.

This picture was taken by my father in 1971. I would have been around 5 at the time. The dog (her name was Goldie), was 4, and I think my dad might have loved her as much as, if not more than, he loved me. He never once forgot her name, whereas I still get referred to as “Vel-errr…Kar-errr… Lisa! No…. Diddly-Do-Over-There”. He does that to all his kids, mind you, so it’s not like I’m singled out. He had too many kids, and just the one dog.

Goldie is in nearly every photo taken of me by my dad from the time she was brought home to the time she was “put down” when I was about 13.

She was old and had been through some tough times – surgery for removal of an “India Rubber” ball she accidentally swallowed (my dad still has that – ask him where my first tooth is, though) … rheumatism resulting from being accidentally run over (by my dad!!!!)… poor ol’ dog.

My parents didn’t tell me they’d put Goldie down until 4 days after the deed was done, because I was in the middle of a monstrous school project. They were worried I would be so upset that I’d get a bad mark. I cried. A lot. Not because the dog was gone, so much as I felt guilty that I hadn’t wondered where she was for 4 days. Some friend I turned out to be.

ANYWAY…. that’s not what this post is about. It’s about an incident that happened around the year this picture was taken – and probably the reason I hate cooking so much…

I think we were on Cockburn Island (stop laughing, Suzi), but it could have been one of a myriad of other islands in the North Channel that we “boated” to. I know there were other families there –

1) because my dad (along with several other dads) was three sheets to the wind (ummm… for those not in-the-know, “three sheets to the wind” is Sailor-Talk for Drunk.), and it took other dads present for such a thing to happen, and

B) because My Brother the Trespasser wouldn’t play with me, and it took other kids present for such a thing to happen.

So, all the other kids, being older, were… I don’t know…. gone, and I was left all by my lonesome 5-year-oldness to amuse myself. Under the arguable watchful-eyedness of a bunch of drunks. I could hardly help but get into trouble.

We were BBQ-ing that night. Well, the other families were BBQ-ing. Ours was “Hibachi-ing”. My dad loved his little Hibachi, because it didn’t need any dismantling for storage (we lived on a boat in the summer, remember?), or have to be strapped down on the deck.

hibachi
It looked exactly like this.

Yes. Very small. Very low to the ground. About up to a 5-year-old’s shins. Reachable, in other words, to both a 5-year-old girl who only looked like an angel, and a 4-year-old dog who would eat anything within reach provided my dad wasn’t yelling “UUT! Oh, NO YOU DON’T!!” at the time. As I recall, that worked on both dog and girl equally well.

But, as you will recall, my dad was three sheets to the wind. And he did a silly thing. He told me (ME!) to “keep an eye on the Hibachi and make sure Goldie doesn’t get into the hamburgers.” Imagine that! And then he went back to his lawn chair, his rum, his buddies, and Nat King Cole on the 8-track.

So, I picked up the spatula and “kept an eye on the Hibachi”. As well as any 5-year-old who’d never wielded a spatula before could….

Now, this is about the point where the way my parents tell this story and the truth part ways. Ahem…*

To my knowledge, my parents don’t read my blog… in fact, I’m pretty sure that My Brother the Trespasser is the only member of my family who ever has, and I’m not even sure of that, truthfully… but if I get in trouble for the following admission, I will be forced to inform my parents who it was that taught me how to remove a locked wine-cellar door from its hinges quickly and silently, and put it back the way I found it, equally quickly and equally silently. Not to mention the party I swore I’d keep quiet about in exchange for such a valuable education. I swear I’ll tell. Fair warning, oh Brother Mine.

My parents maintain that I was “playing house”. That I “didn’t know any better”. That I just “had quite the imagination as a child”. Ri-ight. Goldie would have ratted me out in a heartbeat if my dad had thought to offer a milk bone. As it was, I think she may have scored the whole meal.

I was trying to flip the hamburgers over. I knew it had to be done; I could smell them burning. No amount of arm-waving, or sleeve-pulling, or “excuse-me-ing” could get my dad’s attention, and truthfully, it never once occurred to me to go to my mother because this emergency pertained to The Hibachi, which was most definitely my father’s turf.

And he ignored me.

And I saw my chance to finally be The Hero, and save supper.

So, I gingerly slid the spatula under a hamburger patty, and attempted to deftly flip it over, whereupon it promptly flipped off the Hibachi. Into the sand. Of course. May I remind you at this point, that I was 5.

You may not be aware, unless you’ve dropped a hamburger patty into the sand, that sand does not scrape off a hamburger patty. Completely.

But it can be disguised.

With more sand.

On all the other hamburger patties.

You can fit about eight hamburgers on an Hibachi grill. It takes approximately ten minutes for a 5-year-old girl-that-looks-like-an-angel-but-who-has-an-imagination to drop seven hamburger patties in the sand (on purpose!), scrape as much sand off as possible, and return them to the grill, sand-side-down.

They didn’t catch on until the second bite, as I recall, but they haven’t let me forget it, since. I believe we had bologna sandwiches for supper that night. Goldie ate sandy hamburger.

Not-So-Random Song for the Day: “Ramblin’ Rose” – Nat King Cole